Katy Perry Sobs During School Shooting Survivor’s ‘Idol’ Audition: VIDEO

Katy Perry crying

Heavy/ABC Katy Perry sobs at the judges' table after Trey Louis' "American Idol" season 21 audition

The second night of auditions on season 21 of “American Idol” quickly turned from lighthearted to somber during the final moments of the February 26, 2023, episode. The final audition of the night featured 21-year-old Trey Louis of Santa Fe, Texas, who revealed after his performance that he was a survivor of the 2018 school shooting in his hometown, which left 10 people dead and 13 wounded, according to Houston Public Media. 

Following Louis’ successful audition, during which he performed the Whiskey Myers song “Stone” in honor of one of his best friends killed in the mass shooting, Louis stunned the celebrity judges — Lionel Richie, Katy Perry, and Luke Bryan — with his backstory. Perry broke down in tears and buried her head in her hands before expressing her frustration and fears over violence in America.

“This is not okay,” she exclaimed as tears streamed down her face. The audition left all three judges shaken, but they collected themselves enough to give Louis a golden ticket to Hollywood, encouraging him to use his voice to help create change.

‘Idol’ Contestant Trey Louis Shares School Shooting Experience: ‘Lost A Lot of Friends’

The “American Idol” judges seemed unaware of Louis’ backstory as they joked around with him and listened to his rendition of “Stone” by Whiskey Myers, which he told ABC13 he chose in honor of one of his best friends, Chris Stone, who was killed in the shooting. It was only after his performance, as the judges were heaping on praise, that Louis — a full-time mattress salesman who still lives and works in Santa Fe — shared his background.

“Man you’re just singing from the perfect spot,” Bryan told him after he finished his song, comparing him to country superstar Chris Stapleton. “You throw that head back, you close them eyes and you got the perfect voice.”

When Bryan asked him why he was auditioning for “Idol,” Louis shared that he loves many alumni of the show, but that he’s also trying to move forward after what have been a few very difficult years for him and his town.

“Um, in May 2018 a gunman walked into my school,” he said slowly and took a deep breath. “I was in Art Room One, and he shot up Art Room Two before he made his way to Art Room One.”

Louis continued, “Lost a lot of friends. Eight students were killed, two teachers were killed. It’s just really been negative man. Santa Fe’s had a bad rap here since 2018.”

According to ABC13, student Dimitrios Pagourtzis opened fire on the art classrooms on May 18, 2018. In an interview with the station before his “Idol” audition, Louis told the station he credits student Christian Riley Garcia with saving his life by blocking the door to the closet where he was hiding. Garcia, who was 15, was among the eight students who died.

In early February, KPRC reported that the gunman, Dimitrios Pagourtzis, who was 17 at the time of the shooting, is still considered incompetent to stand trial, according to the Galveston District Attorney’s Office. Pagourtzis has been living at North Texas State Hospital, but has not been “restored to competency to stand trial,” according to the District Attorney, so doctors have recommended he continue to stay there for another year.

The trial’s continued delay has outraged victims’ families, according to The Daily News in Galveston County, who want closure and consequences for Pagourtzis, who is facing a potential life sentence with the possibility of parole after 40 years.

Katy Perry Breaks Down Over Trey Louis’ Story

Katy Perry

ABC / YouTubeKaty Perry cries over Trey Louis’ story of surviving the 2018 mass shooting at Santa Fe High School

After Louis’ emotional story, the judges were clearly at a loss for words, sighing and dabbing their eyes.

Bryan spoke first, saying, “Man, you’ve just got the perfect voice, you sing from the right spot, you let it come out of your heart and that’s what we love around here.”

When he turned to Perry, she couldn’t get any words out and crumpled into tears, burying her head in her hands at the judges’ table. When she sat back up, she expressed how frustrated she was that Louis and his community had to endure the trauma of another mass shooting.

“Our country has f***ing failed us,” she exclaimed, to which Louis replied, “Facts.”

“This is not okay,” she said through tears. “You should be singing here because you love music, not because you had to go through that (expletives). You didn’t have to lose eight friends.”

“I hope that you remind people that we have to change,” she said, her voice cracking with emotion. “’Cause you know what? I’m scared too.”

As Richie and Bryan put their hands on her shoulders, Louis said, “It’s terrible, Katy. It’s horrible.”

After a deep breath, Richie said, “We have tolerated this for so long, too long. It’s become a norm.”

“That we’ve got to change,” Perry added. “I hope you can just lead. Can you do me that favor?”

Louis replied, “For myself, for my school, for you, you bet. Yes, ma’am.”

Richie then encouraged the threesome to share their votes, adding that he was a “yes” and couldn’t wait to see Louis in Hollywood.

Bryan, who was too choked up to talk at first, said, “Yes. You’re perfect” and Perry, after taking a moment to collect herself, smiled at Louis and said, “Thank you. Yes.”

The judges all hugged each other as Louis left the room with his golden ticket. Producers later filmed the young singer holding his ticket at the football stadium of his former high school and beneath Santa Fe’s water tower, reflecting on his experience.

“It’s important for me to share my story from my hometown, for Parkland, for Columbine, for Las Vegas and so many others,” he said. “What we go through every day because of what happened is terrible. But there is light, there is positivity, you just have to go chase it.”

“Santa Fe, I’m not stopping,” he said, addressing his community. “I’ve got all the motivation behind me, I’ve got all of you guys behind me. What a blessing this really is.”

The night his audition aired, Louis posted several photos to his Instagram account, where he’s dubbed himself “Trey from the Fe.”

Under a series of photos of himself and his girlfriend Grace at the auditions he wrote, “I LOVE YOU AMERICA! Thank You.”